Woo hoo! Another long bank holiday weekend! Thank you England! Dan and I love wine, and when we moved over to London we said we wanted to be sure we did at least one long weekend in one of the best wine regions in Europe. SO off to Bordeaux we went!
We rented a car at the airport and headed over to spend our first day just east of Bordeaux in Saint-Émilion. The town and surrounding area is really cool and worth checking out. The medieval town is full of beautiful churches, ruins, shops and history. It sits up on a little hill, so it looks very majestic among all of the vineyards below. We did a morning tour/tasting, lunch in the town then another tour/tasting in the afternoon.
Our morning tour/tasting was at at Château Franc Mayne. Out of all of our tours from the weekend, I think this one was the most unique. We were able to walk through their underground tunnels! In the Saint-Émilion region, there are approximately 200 kms of underground limestone tunnels. A lot of the chateau’s are interconnected and can lead all the way into the town. They were originally limestone mines and were later used as shelter during the wars. Now they are used to store and mature wine. It was fascinating to walk through! We were surprised to learn that all of the wines in the Bordeaux region are blends. Typically, the grapes used are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Most of the wines we tasted had Merlot as the base (60-80%).
After our first tasting, we went into Saint-Émilion to explore and have lunch. No surprise, we had wine, fromage and Charcuterie!
For our second tour and tasting, we went to Château Soutard. It is a beautiful working winery and is very modern compared to many of the other Chateau’s in the region. The facilities are incredibly posh, which made it really fun to explore and learn about the history and their wine making process. We learned that this was one of the first chateau’s to start planting grape vines in rows versus clusters.
Unfortunately, out of all the tastings and visits from the weekend, this one ended up being our least favourite. The wines were very acidic, which is true to the region’s taste, but definitely not one of the flavour profiles we love in wine.
After our tour, we drove over to Château La Mothe du Barry, where we were staying for the night. We nailed it with our lodging for this trip! Our room at this chateau was UHH-MAZING! It was an old wine vat! It was super modern and unique. And the place had the most perfect little pool, which is where we spent the remainder of the afternoon. We were able to taste the chateau’s wines poolside. The owners of the chateau were so accommodating and nice. And the breakfast was worth the stay itself! So delicious and all homemade. Can’t recommend this adorable place enough!
For day two, we drove up to the Médoc region, just north of Bordeaux. This area is absolutely brilliant! The region is filled with tiny villages and massive chateau’s dotted through the rolling hills and vineyards. It was so beautiful to drive around with the windows down, music up and smiles on our faces.
The first chateau we stopped for a tour and tasting was Château D’Agassac. Talk about storybook chateau! WHOA! I still can’t believe this place was real…it was so cool! And our guide was amazing and their wine was the best we tasted from the weekend! We found that most of the chateau’s wine making process is pretty much the same, but at this one we learned that they put in egg whites with the wine during the aging in the barrel’s to collect the sediment from the grapes. The egg whites have no taste and do not alter the wine at all, so it is an easy way to extract the unwanted sediment. Very interesting…
After our tasting, we drove up to Pauillac for a quick lunch by the river.
We then decided to drive over to the coast to cool off and spend the afternoon by the sea. We went to Soulac-sur-Mer and immediately hit the beach! The weather was so fantastic the whole time we were away – mid 80’s and sunny!
For our second night in wine country, we stayed at Hotel Rollan De By. Again – totally nailed it with the accommodations! Everything was perfection! The room, the chateau grounds, the vineyard, the host…everything! Oh, and the breakfast! SO GOOD! We were even given a tour of the operations and a tasting. We got to taste the wine straight out of the vats too! We ended the evening with a wonderful French dinner at Table Tartine.
On our last full day in wine heaven we drove over to another seaside town, Arcachon. The area is known for their fresh seafood, especially oysters and mussels which are harvested locally. So we immediately hit up a local spot for some fresh mussels! We then went over to the Dune of Pilat, which happens to be the largest sand dune in Europe!` We spent about an hour swimming in the sea and exploring the coast (which was filled with mussels!).
We finished our weekend off in Bordeaux’s city centre. The city is very small, so we were able to hit all of the highlights in just one afternoon/evening. We walked the river, saw the Palace and the large cathedrals, before finishing the trip off with one last French meal: wine, cheese and meat (again)! It was the perfect end cap to an amazing long weekend away. The city of Bordeaux is cute, but pales in comparison to the countryside!